I’ve just come back from Rome for a meeting of the International Federation of the Red Cross, and I was really struck by the words of one of my international colleagues.
She’d been on a training course recently on strategic planning. Right at the start of the course she told me that the participants had been made to listen to Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech.
Spending time listening to this speech, the overall message or dream of the speech was clear to all – there was no ambiguity there. They were then encouraged to compare the clarity of this speech with some of their more recent strategy documents.
The comparison was stark and the point was made that very often we immerse ourselves in complex strategies, but in doing so we lose sight of our overall dream. It made me reflect that I have seen many NGOs lose themselves in their strategy documents, and then they lose sight of who they are and of their dream.
I loved the message from this workshop. To be effective we must know our dream and be able to communicate it crisply and clearly. I wonder how many organisations would pass the ‘I have a dream’ test or whether they prefer the comfort of their strategy papers. This is one test that I am going to use in future!